advertisement
advertisement

Harnessing the Internet for Social Good

Traditional Indian herbal medicine, Ayurveda, is based on certain constitutional characteristics of the human being called doshas. There are three doshas, vata, pitta and kapha; most of us are a combination of any two of them. An Ayurvedic physician determines your dosha, and then prescribes you a diet, herbs, and a lifestyle to optimize your health. Like Chinese medicine, Ayurveda has grown more popular as allopathic medicine has grown more expensive, technology-focused, and impersonal.

Traditional Indian herbal medicine, Ayurveda, is based on certain
constitutional characteristics of the human being called doshas. There
are three doshas, vata, pitta and kapha; most of us are a combination of
any two of them.

advertisement

An Ayurvedic physician determines your dosha, and then prescribes you a
diet, herbs, and a lifestyle to optimize your health. Like Chinese
medicine, Ayurveda has grown more popular as allopathic medicine has
grown more expensive, technology-focused, and impersonal.

Today I landed in Delhi to see my favorite Ayurvedic doctor, Dr. Partap
Chauhan <http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=y4e7KmoNaBk> . When I met him in
1999, the commercial internet was in its infancy, and yet his company
was already selling Ayurvedic remedies over the web. They also had set
up a call center of Ayurvedic doctors who answered questions from
people in rural villages. Representatives in these villages were given
cell phones, and the owners of  cell phones became  entrepreneurs,
charging the patients to make a call to the doctor in Delhi. This form
of telemedicine, if I remember correctly, was initially funded in a
partnership with MIT. When you realize all this took place ten years
ago, when telemedicine wasn’t being practiced in the US at all, you
understand how necessity in India is the mother of invention.

This company Jiva. com <http://www.jiva.com> typifies the mystery and
glory of India, a country where the power may not always work, but the
latest technologies are combined with the oldest traditions for social
good.

I’m currently visiting Dr. Chauhan’s clinic, helping his team expand its
business <http://www.jiva.com> through social media. In the nearly
ten years I’ve known this company, they have opened six clinics and
built a school for 1000 Indian children in a suburb of Delhi, Faridabad.
They have now bought land for a new Ayurvedic campus to be constructed
south of Delhi. These have been financed through the sale of Ayurvedic
products and consultations. Dr. Chauhan lectures all over the world.

Jiva.com <http://www.jiva.com> has always been a social venture whose
mission was to sell Ayurvedic therapies and use the proceeds to fund a
school where Indian children would learn new life skills for the modern
world –problem solving and critical thinking especially. I just got
here this afternoon, but I’ve already had a necklace of mums given to me
by the students, and I have a tour of all the clinics and the new land
ahead of me.

I’m sure I will have more to say about this wonderful company. Talk
about whether it is possible to start a company during a downturn — try
starting one in India. Talk about whether it’s possible to grow a
company outside Silicon Valley — this one’s growing quite nicely in
Delhi.

About the author

Francine Hardaway, Ph.D is a serial entrepreneur and seasoned communications strategist. She co-founded Stealthmode Partners, an accelerator and advocate for entrepreneurs in technology and health care, in 1998.

More